Captain Falcon (SSB)
Captain Falcon (キャプテン・ファルコン, Captain Falcon) is the main character from the F-Zero franchise, and appears in Super Smash Bros. as one of the four unlockable characters. His appearance is based on his incarnation from F-Zero X for the Nintendo 64. He is voiced by Ryo Horikawa, who would go on to voice him in later iterations.
Captain Falcon is currently ranked 3rd overall on the tier list for his overall very quick movement speed (despite a slow walking speed, he has the fastest dashing and falling speeds in the game, and an average air speed) and very strong combo ability, with his up aerial being an especially useful move that can combo in a huge variety of ways, including being able to lead into another up aerial or a forward aerial for aerial combos, as well as a Falcon Dive or down aerial as a combo finisher. Along with powerful edgeguarders in his back aerial and up aerial semi-spike, and an effective meteor smash with a very long duration in his down aerial, this gives Falcon a strong aerial game. His combo game isn't limited to the air, thanks to his up smash and forward throw that can easily setup other moves due to their low knockback. His combos involving aerials, up smash, and forward throw are able to 0-death many characters without much difficulty. Captain Falcon also has strong vertical endurance and is overall fairly difficult to KO onstage.
Captain Falcon's primary weaknesses include his vulnerability to combos from many characters due to his very fast falling speed and high weight and size. His ground game is also much more limited than his air game, due to him lacking options on the ground outside up smash, forward smash, grab, and neutral attack, as well as having somewhat limited out of shield options. He is also highly vulnerable to edgeguarding, due to his large size and subpar recovery, due to it being predictable, as his primary recovery move, Falcon Dive, gives short horizontal and vertical distance, while also being unable to grab edgehoggers, and his very fast falling speed hindering it further. Additionally, Captain Falcon lacks a projectile and a reliable way to deal with them, making characters like Fox difficult to deal with.
Regardless, Captain Falcon's strengths outweigh his flaws by a noticeable margin, resulting in strong matchups, and he has some of the highest representation and results of any character. He ranks higher in the NTSC than in the Japanese version due to him being buffed, whereas in the Japanese version he ranks 4th on the tier list.
How to unlock
Captain Falcon is a character who focuses on speed and power. His most notorious attributes are his incredible speed (the fastest dashing and falling speed) and combo ability. He also has the best dash-dance in the game, and a very strong aerial game. His up aerial is his most versatile move, being on par with Pikachu's up aerial for the best aerial in the game. Depending on where it hits, it can send the opponent in different directions. The most notable use of the move is to hit opponents straight up by hitting with the heel - this allows Captain Falcon to chain the move into multiple up aerials, and finish with a Falcon Dive for a KO, or a down air when his midair jump is available. If the opponent is too high for a single Falcon Dive to reach, a midair jump is often enough to allow the Falcon Dive to reach them. This is made more effective by the Falcon Dive sending opponent on a difficult-to-DI angle. Another notable use of the up aerial is its ability to hit opponents back on a semi-spike trajectory (by hitting with the mid-section of the leg while it's moving backwards) - this is very useful and effective for edgeguarding. He has a powerful meteor smash in his down aerial, which can be combo'd into in a variety of ways, including up aerial (as mentioned above), forward aerial, or back aerial at lower percentages. Either of these combos could be considered a Ken Combo variation, with Ken even saying the Ken Combo was initially developed using Captain Falcon's up aerial→down aerial combo in Smash 64. Additionally, his down aerial is a very effective edgeguarder, being a meteor smash that can KO aerial opponents somewhat early, as well as having a very long duration, meaning it can be used along with an edge drop or midair jump around the edge to prevent the opponent from edge sweetspotting.
Some of Captain Falcon's attacks also have great range, most notably his up aerial and forward smash. The latter is additionally a powerful KO move, and a semi-spacing tool, being a reliable KO option without having to get too far in the opponent's reach. Captain Falcon additionally has among the best short hops in the game, being able to approach incredibly quickly using short hopped Z-cancelled aerials. He also has amazing vertical endurance due to his very high falling speed and high weight, and while he isn't particularly vulnerable to juggling anyway, his Falcon Kick can prevent juggling easily due to traveling downward quickly.
Captain Falcon, however, has limited effective ground options. His up smash is another one of his especially effective combo moves, being able to chain into itself up to three times depending on the falling speed of the opponent, and easily being to able to lead into aerials. Additionally, his forward throw is a very useful combo tool, being able to combo into forward aerial, up aerial, and up smash out of a dash, as well as a Falcon Punch on fastfallers or heavyweights at moderately high percentages. He also lacks a projectile and reliable ways to avoid them, which can give him trouble against characters like Fox on larger stages. Simply put, he is among the most vulnerable characters to constant projectile camping and ground-based camping. The banning of Hyrule Castle has helped Captain Falcon's metagame as he is less susceptible to projectile camping. Captain Falcon's two most major weaknesses are his recovery and how vulnerable he is to combos. His high weight, moderately large hurtbox, and very fast falling speed makes it easy to combo him offstage, where his large size, very fast falling speed, and short and predictable recovery make him one of the easiest characters to edgeguard. Captain Falcon is known on a competitive level as being one of the top characters on Dream Land and having one of the best matchups (45-55) against Pikachu. However, Captain Falcon struggles with Kirby.
Captain Falcon is considered to be one of the best characters in doubles due to his incredibly easy to utilize combos and movement speed. Thanks to his speed, he is one of the best characters at helping teammates to evade and get out of edgeguarding and combos from opponents. His throws can lead into partner combos as well. A notable team wobble is that two Captain Falcons can re-grab into another grab with correct timing. Captain Falcon's main issue is his recovery, so in competitive play, he is usually paired with someone who is on a much safer position offstage and can help him with combos, usually Pikachu or Mario.
Differences between game versions
Captain Falcon was buffed overall in his transition to NTSC, despite technically receiving several more nerfs. His faster dashing and falling speeds give him an even better approach, and the higher presence of SDI makes him less vulnerable to combos. However, he jumps slightly lower and Falcon Dive covers less distance, making him easier to edgeguard. Overall, however, Falcon is slightly better than in the Japanese version.
In Competitive play
Captain Falcon has an overall above average matchup spread. Captain Falcon is the only character with a virtually even matchup against Pikachu, due to his up aerial combo'ing and edgeguarding Pikachu notably well. His worst matchup is Kirby, who he has trouble approaching due to Kirby's up tilt outranging all of Captain Falcon's quick approaching methods. He also has slightly more trouble comboing Kirby than most characters, due to his floatiness limiting use of the basic up smash and making it slightly easier for him to escape up aerial juggles, and is also easily edgeguarded by Kirby. Jigglypuff is also known for doing very well against Captain Falcon, due to its forward throw, aerials, Pound, and Rest comboing Falcon rather easily.
Captain Falcon's matchups are more favorable in the Japanese version of the game. Due to his better jump height and Falcon Dive covering more distance, he is considerably harder to edgeguard, helping against characters such as Pikachu and Mario. The increased hitstun also improves the potential of his combos against characters such as Pikachu, whom he now has an advantageous matchup against (being the only character in the game to do so, as well as the only character in the series to have an advantageous matchup against a character ranked first on a tier list). However, the much less efficient SDI in the Japanese version makes it easier for characters with quick drills to rack up quick damage on Captain Falcon (most notably Kirby, whose forward and down aerials are significantly more useful for this reason).
This is an easy-to-perform technique that can be used effectively for mindgames. Essentially, it is a forward roll that is performed without using a roll. To utilize the technique, one begins with an initial dash and quickly taps the control stick in the opposite direction. If one holds it in the opposite direction, or even presses it, then Captain Falcon will dash-dance instead. What makes this technique very effective is that Captain Falcon has a long initial dash, and so one can use this to tech-chase an opponent depending on their position, or even perform a sort of pivot grab. One can also use the dash pivot to change one's position in battle, necessary for spacing: successive dash pivots in one direction after a hit can provide new approach options, lining up Captain Falcon for short hopped back/up aerials, while simultaneously performing a sort of pseudo-moonwalk, potentially throwing off the opponent's perception of Captain Falcon's movement. In addition to the aforementioned usages, one can use the dash pivot to edge-hog very effectively. With proper spacing, a well-timed dash pivot can thrust a player off a ledge into a ledge grab, allowing for many viable recovery blocking techniques (a taunt cancel implemented while flying off a ledge adds notable humour and dramatic flair as well). It can also be used to land an up aerial as a simple followup to a forward throw from the edge at mid-high percentages, as a great way to land the semi-spike portion of the move. Overall, the potential of this technique is quite significant, and it is an integral part of any decent Captain Falcon user's metagame.
Teeter canceled Falcon Kick
Falcon Kick is often used among advanced Captain Falcon users as the last hit of a combo (generally followed after a forward aerial) or as an edgeguarding move. If the player is dashing, he can teeter cancel and seemingly use a Falcon Kick out of a full sprint.
"Stairway to Heaven" combo
Main article: Stairway to Heaven
Captain Falcon's up aerial is notorious for its low and nearly purely vertical knockback as well as its high hitstun. This combo involves using up aerial chains to combo the opponent to near the top of the stage, where Falcon Dive can be used as a combo finisher to hopefully Star KO them. These up aerial chains are extremely common among Captain Falcon players.
A regular pilot in the great galactic race F-ZERO Grand Prix, Captain Falcon is skilled at collecting prize money. Much about his past remains hidden in shadow, but it's clear that many a villain hold a powerful grudge against him.
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